View Full Version : Leather vs. Kydex Holsters (CompTac vs. WMII Review)

Mac Attack
07-15-2010, 8:24 AM
This is an old post I made on another forum but I thought it was good stuff and decided to post it here.

Back in 2003 I had a renewed interest in 1911’s and purchased a special one from a friend on another forum. At the time I did not have a quality holster to carry it in and thus started my quest for the perfect holster. I read all the posts about the various brands and models and for the most part the two which I read about the most was the Comp-Tac C.T.A.C. (Concealed-Tactical Adjustable Cant) and the Milt Sparks VersaMax II (VMII). I have been using one form or another of leather holsters over the years and frankly was interested in trying something new in kydex, thus the CTAC.

Anyways, I was talking to another good friend, who has years of experience carrying a 1911, about the whole leather vs. kydex controversy as it applies to holsters and I mentioned that I was thinking of a CTAC. He and I discussed the virtues of leather vs. kydex and basically came to the conclusion that the only way to know if kydex was a material for me was to try it out. He said that he happened to have a spare CTAC that he wasn’t using at the time and offered it to me to ‘try before you buy’. I took him up on the offer and he promptly sent it to me. I was surprised to find that the holster he sent me to test drive was brand spanking new. Talk about a generous offer.

Anyways, I digress. Back to the original topic CompTac CTAC verses Sparks VMII. I carried my full sized 1911 in the CTAC for 10+ hours every day for a month in everything from thick coverage to just a T-shirt. Details about the CTAC can be found on their site http://www.comp-tac.com/:

As you can see from the website and description the CTAC is a flexible platform that can be modified with little to no effort whatsoever.

The Pro’s of the CTAC:
• I found the holster to be very thin and light but rigid at the same time
• The holster fit my 1911 well and allowed for a very quick and effortless draw
• Was moderately comfortable even after 10+ hour days
• Kydex did not mar my stainless steel finish or otherwise scratch the surface
• At $75 for the basic model this is a very affordable holster for the money.
• Interchangeable belt loops make the holster very adaptable

The Con’s of the CTAC:
• The holster I tested had the standard clips which slid onto the belt from the top. I did not like the design of the belt clips and felt they were fragile and the weak point of the entire holster so much so that rather than stretch them to slide them down onto the holster I chose to thread my belt through them like a belt loop.
• The kydex clips also did not allow for very easy adjustment once the holster was on the belt. I found myself having to make adjustments constantly.
• The holster’s edge closest to the body was stiff and rubbed into my side to the point it became uncomfortable at times.
• Nothing about a silent draw with this holster. Any time I drew the holster you head the tell tale click of the kydex as it released the tension on the firearm.
• The CTAC is not a secure holster when compared to leather holsters. I had my wife try to grab my gun from my holster from behind and 9 out o 10 times she was able to pull it out with any resistance.

Overall the CTAC is a great design and basically the kydex version of the VMII.

Based on my experience with the CTAC I decided to purchase a VMII so I could compare them side by side. Details of the VMII can be found on the Milt Sparks web page http://www.miltsparks.com/ . I searched and searched and finally found a dealer who had one available in the configuration which I wanted. I received it a few days later. I then tested my VMII under the same circumstances as I did the CTAC. My conclusions are as follows:

Pro’s of VMII
• Though leather is significantly thicker than kydex I found it to much more comfortable and body contouring.
• I had no trouble wearing my VMII for 10+ hours a day.
• No discernible affect on the finish of my firearm.
• Changeable belt loops allows the holster to be converted from tuckable to IWB in minutes.
• The belt loops allow for on demand adjustments (forward and back) easier than the kydex loops on the CTAC.
• Draws from holster were smooth and silent.
• Ran the same gun grabber test with my wife and the leather offered much more retention than the CTAC.

Con’s of VMII
• If purchase directly from Milt Sparks the cost is $95 which is $20 more than the CTAC.
• Delivery times are 16 – 18 weeks. I paid a premium to get mine but I bypassed the 16 – 18 weeks of waiting.
• Weigh, though not a real factor, was more than the CTAC.
• Leather finish is more prone to scratch than the kydex.

Overall, I much preferred the leather VMII over the kydex CTAC for all the reasons listed above. I found the VMII to be far more comfortable and felt if offered more retention than the CTAC. Even though it costs $20 more than the CTAC I would still go with the VMII. There’s just something about the smell of a custom made leather holster that brings a smile to your face knowing you are wearing it. Fit and finish were superb and the smell was captivating. No breaks in period on this holster were necessary.

Anyways, there you have it, my honest review of the CTAC and VMII. Both are great holsters and will give you years of service if given proper maintenance. In the end, the decision is kind of personal but for me it was an easy one. Many thanks to "You know who" for providing me the opportunity to test drive his holster. I appreciate it Buddy! ....and thanks for for reading my novel.

Now for some pictures

VMII family - HK P7M8, Colt 1911 and Glock 30

07-15-2010, 8:27 AM
Excellent review.